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Debunking every argument for the Bengals to trade the first overall pick

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The movement to trade out of first overall is picking up steam.

2018 NFL Draft Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

In Lance Zierlein’s latest mock draft, he projected the Bengals and the Dolphins to work out a trade. In this scenario, the Bengals trade down to fifth overall in return for a plethora of draft picks that the Dolphins have to offer.

In my personal opinion, I think Zierlein was just doing this for fun, not because he thinks a trade will actually happen. But the media took this narrative and run with it.

Two outlets in particular have made some noise. I didn’t even want to name them at first to avoid giving them too much attention for such lazy journalism.

Marcus Spears on ESPN’s Get Up and Colin Cowherd on Fox Sports’ Herd all proposed the Bengals accept an offer from the Dolphins. But in each case, their reasoning was flawed.

Below I will address each argument that they made.

In each argument, I make two important assumptions.

First of all, the Dolphins are going to have to give up most, if not all, of their first and second round picks. They have three first round picks and two second round picks in 2020, and two in each of the first two rounds in 2021. It would take a combination of about five picks between this year and next year.

The second assumption is that Joe Burrow is a far better prospect than Justin Herbert. According to Zierlein’s mock draft, the Bengals take Herbert at five. The Chargers trade up to get Tua Tagovailoa at third overall in his mock.

Even if the Chargers don’t trade up, there’s still a chance the Lions draft him at three or that another team trades up. The Bengals would be taking a huge risk assuming Tagovailoa will be available at five.

Of course, it is entirely possible the Bengals view Herbert as franchise quarterback material. Zac Taylor got to meet him at the Senior Bowl and watched him practice. Herbert performed well in the game, so Taylor might find him suitable.

Taylor did meet Burrow at the combine, but because of COVID-19, they won’t be able to meet in person again. The Bengals won’t be able to meet with anyone for that matter, so their impression of Herbert is stronger than that of almost any other quarterback in the draft.

Without further ado, here are all my responses to the arguments that the Bengals should trade with the Dolphins.

“If there is any sense in Cincinnati that Burrow doesn’t want to be a Bengal long-term, then the team should listen to offers.”

That’s a direct quote from Zierlein’s mock draft.

We’ve been over this enough already, so I’m not even going to dignify this with a response.

The Bengals would have to trade back up

This isn’t a direct rebuttal, but is a problem that would need to be addressed according the scenario Zierlein set up.

In Zierlein’s mock draft, the Chargers traded up to third overall for Tagovailoa. So if the Bengals trade back to five, they will be stuck with the third best quarterback in the draft.

The only way to avoid that is to trade back up to three.

The only way this would work is if the Dolphins do what the Bills did a few years ago to get Josh Allen. They started at 21, traded with the Bengals to get to 11, then traded once more to get to eighth overall. The Dolphins would have to trade up to three, then up to one. But of course by the time they got to three, they would have already had to give up the capital it would take to convince the Bengals.

“Joe Burrow would love the opportunity to play for a building team in South Florida”

How about playing for a building team in South Ohio? He said he could be play football in the afternoon and be home in time for dinner.

Burrow will get beat up in AFC North

The argument is that the Steelers, Ravens, and Browns all have tough defenses to compete against, so Burrow will get beat up badly by an offense that can’t protect him.

But is the AFC East much easier? The Patriots defense was the best the NFL has seen in years. The Bills are still a scary defense, and the Jets could get some key pieces healthy again. The AFC North is always scary, but the East isn’t far behind.

But the media seems to forget (because why would they pay attention to the Bengals any more than they have to?) that the Bengals have the best tackle from 2019 returning. The Bengals’ offensive line may not be great, but it will be better than next season.

Joe Burrow with no help is going to struggle in Cincinnati

Joe Burrow with no help is going to struggle in Miami. Remember how the Dolphins got all of these picks in the first place? They traded away all their best players.

Here are the options for Burrow then: go to the Bengals who have some picks, or go to the Dolphins who have no picks.

Where is he likely to struggle more?

Aggressive teams win

Admittedly, the Bengals are not known for being aggressive for good reason.

But let’s look at the last two years. They fired Marvin Lewis, they hired a 35-year-old head coach with no play calling experience, they decided to move on from their franchise quarterback who is still under contract, and they made D.J. Reader the highest paid DT in the NFL.

They may not be as aggressive as other teams, but the 2020 Bengals are far more aggressive than the 2018 Bengals. Let’s just take this one step at a time.

“I’d rather have Herbert with five additional draft picks than Joe Burrow without them”

Again, the Dolphins have five picks in the first two rounds this year because they traded away their best players. Is Burrow good enough that he will make your team better, even if he’s the only player they draft in the first two rounds?

If he is that good, then what if the Bengals draft him and build their team with the picks they have now?

If he is that good, then it will be easier to build around him in the future. If it takes five early picks to make Herbert equivalent to Burrow, then you are putting a lot of pressure on the draft. The Bengals have been missing on a lot of picks lately, so it’s less of a risk to take Burrow than Herbert. If Herbert needs those additional picks to equal Burrow, and the Bengals draft poorly, then they would be better off just keeping Burrow.